It’s Not About You! How to Effectively Influence
Throughout my career as an Executive Communication Consultant, I have coached clients who repeatedly ask me how they can become more influential with their superiors, their colleagues, their teams and with existing or potential customers.
And while my coaching advice varies based upon the individual, the listener/receiver and the goal of the desired outcome, there is always an underlying foundational quote that I use to provide a logical mental starting point for those who would like to become more influential:
“The key to being an effective influencer is knowing that it’s not about you. It’s about the receiver.”
A speaker can deliver an outstanding presentation, analysis or plea based upon their own drivers. However, if the communication lacks customization to the listener and does not resonate with them, the speaker has failed to be influential.
People who are adept at influencing individuals, teams and even crowds know that in order to successfully persuade their listeners, they must customize the communication to their receivers’ needs and motivations. How is this accomplished? Before the communication takes place, I advise all of my clients to walk through a three-step analysis:
First, know your listeners/audience.
What are their expectations of you and the topic?
What is their knowledge level?
Most importantly, What may be their potential bias toward you or the topic?
Secondly, customize the communication to your listener’s needs. How are they motivated?
To be higher profile (i.e., look better to the boss, the team or the world in general)?
To make more money?
To be more efficient, productive and/or reach the next level?
To be personally recognized or feel valued?
Thirdly, what is the goal of the influence? In other words, what do you what your listener to do after you have communicated with them?
Do you want them to take action?
If so, what and how?
Do you want them to not take action?
Answering the questions in these three focus areas will allow you as a speaker to customize and begin to organize your communication in a way that makes sense to the listener, appeals to their needs (vs. yours), and drives toward the desired outcome that you envision for them.
Simply stated, influence is strategic communication. Remember…it’s not about you!